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school me on chains

Twitch57

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sounds kinda dumb but living in california i have to drive about a hour or so to get to snow, ive driven on a couple inches of snow and some ice and am sumwhat comfortable. However I have yet to drive in deep snow / narly conditions, and since I am planning on doing so soon I was wondering if you guys had any advice.

Ive got four wheel drive and the real chains ( not the crummy cables)

what hints tipps or whatever do you guys have?
 


Sunk

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What do you want to know? We had close to a foot here last week and I drove around fine without, and so did everybody else I know with a 4x4.
 

Twitch57

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umm in deep snow, i assume i put em on the back tires and roll in 4wheel

any need to air down the front tires

any specific ways ( other than obvious things like spining tires or power sliding ) that you can through chains>?
 

Sunk

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Some people may say otherwise, but typically if you have 4x4 you put the chains on the front for better braking and steering control.
 

Twitch57

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i was told it was better to have em on the back, more power and less damage if you throw a chain

both front and back seem to make sense
 

Wicked_Sludge

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Ive got four wheel drive and the real chains ( not the crummy cables)
i had a very nice set of quality z-cables that i ran for a few years while i was still in alaska that performed amazingly well. the ride was smoother, grip was better, wear was better, install was easier, and since you are on the cable the whole time, theres no chance of locking the tire up when you come down off a crosslink like the old ladder chains.

i ran my cables on the front because i lived atop a very steep hill that i had to come down every morning so braking and steering was more important than motive power to me. generally you should have chains on the rear since the front driveline isnt really made to do most or all of the pulling...it puts a lot of stress on things. its also a lot rougher having chains on the front tires, but those cables were no worse than driving down a gravel road. i comfortably took them up to 40 a few times.
 

Chris.S.

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IMO,

If you're in 4-wheel you have chains on all 4 corners, period. Chains should only ever be drive wheels, and if all 4 are driving then all 4 should be chained. Only doing one pair will cause significantly increased stress on driveline components.

And when you put your chains on, make sure you've got them as TIGHT as you can. Tighten them as much as you possibly can, drive about 100yds and then re-tighten them again. A properly applied set of chains is a treat to drive compared to one that's not done properly...

And personally, I prefer the cables (for light trucks...). they allow for a bit higher running speed and they're much easier to deal with off the vehicle...
 

rangerbum

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+1 on cables. How are your tires? And what kind? I know your probably not very experienced in the deep snow, but I think that chains are really a big step. I've been driving my 2WD through 6" packed with about 14" fresh snow on top every time I go pick up my friend Kiera. My one tip is to use your momentum, but watch yourself around corners. Too much weight placed to far in the back will make your front end light and slide in a strait line when the wheel is turned.

I do think you should get a good set of cables since you havent had a lot of practice. You'll get the hang of it though. When the road is clear of traffic(hardly ever in California) experiment a bit. Find when your truck gets the best traction and handles best. There will be a happy medium at some speed, and even if you begin to slide, you'll know exactly how to recover after a bit of "experimenting"
 

Gum-B

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I drive in lots of deep snow with chains on the fronts. I do agree with Chris.S. there should be chains on all 4 if you are in 4. but i only have i set of chains. Im a light pickup most of the weight is up front so that is where i need the chains. they also help with stopping. The cables are nice, but they dont beat the traction of linked chains. The down side to linked chain is that is is rough, and they can be hard to put on. Again i agree with Chris.S. in that they need to be as tight as possible. If you think they are tight enough try harder. loose chains suck. For the most part if you are a 4x4 chains are not needed, as long as you stay on main roads. I have never put chains on my bronco, but it is only driven on the highway and up to the ski hill. My ranger is chained all winter because i use it to go explore, and to check my feed plots. If i did not have chains on my ranger i would not get far. I would recommend good tires, and a pair of cables as a just in case. also if you are going into the show. a tow strap, and some road flares are nice to have.
 

kamps989

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If you are just driving on roads not off-road IMO you really dont need chains (with 4x4). I have driven in plenty of snow up here and unless you are in a crazy blizzard just take it easy brake early and accelerate slowly (I in my stupidity like to go out and drive when there is alot of snow and I have never owned chains). Oh and it's always a good idea to have a shovel handy when you drive in alot of snow.
 

aogden001

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I was taught to air down the tires, put the chains on as tite as possible, and then air the tires back up. Everything nice & tite.
 

Chris.S.

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I was taught to air down the tires, put the chains on as tite as possible, and then air the tires back up. Everything nice & tite.
Excellent idea, as long as you have OBA or a 12volt compressor with you. Unless of course you're prepared enough to chain up in town....
 

Wicked_Sludge

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airing the tires up after installing the chains works well....but be damn sure you have all the hooks and links facing outwards or else you will chew through your sidewalls lickity-split.
 

lil_Blue_Ford

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Ok, I feel a need to chime in...

I went off to college for awhile in a place that I deemed to be Hell's Icebox. My first semester up there, the fall semester, I heard quite a few people going on at length about how horrible the weather got there in the winter. I was laughing all the way home (100 miles south) at the end of the semester thinking that it was all a joke because we had only gotten about an inch and a half of snow up there. Boy was I ever wrong. I returned the night before the spring semester started to find all of the roads once I turned off the state maintained roads covered in hardpack snow. I also discovered the driveway for the house I was renting had over a foot of snow in it. All the remainder of the winter I did a lot of walking or riding my mountain bike, and a lil testing now and again with my Ranger.

In fresh snow of up to just over a foot, as long as I didn't loose all of my momentum, with mud tires in the rear and ~150 lbs in the bed, my 2wd with an open rear did admirably well. The hardpack and ice covering all of the roads was a different animal, I had virtually zero control, and the result was a $500 ding to a brand new car, plus I had to find someone with a 4x4 mazda pickup to drag me to some place where I could get enough traction to move down the street. More weight helped on the street, but every time it started snowing, the weight killed me by bogging me down. Running the tires at 30psi helped to a degree too, but it still wasn't much.

My second year up there I poked around and ordered a set of V-Bar chains from a company in PA (tirechains.com). Working them over mud tires and tightening them down was a real bear, but the results were spectacular. My lowly 2wd ranger with an open rear was turned into a tank. Cleared roads were not much fun, the noise and vibration, plus the chains didn't grip all that well on clear asphalt. But since most of the roads became snow-covered and stayed that way till they scraped the 6" of ice off the roads in the spring with heavy equipment, it wasn't hard to stay where they shined. The control over being able to start and stop without issue was impressive. For the fun of it one day I decided to try running into an area that wasn't plowed, but was a parking area for the boat launch on the lake in the summer. Plowing through drifts halfway up my doors, I didn't have a problem.

My third year I bought a Bronco II during the onset of winter and fixed it up in a hurry. Even with crappy street tires, it did great. Using the 4x4 when I needed it, I left my Ranger parked except for when I needed to head home or make some other longer excursion. I also tried something different with the Ranger. I bumped the weight to ~200-250 lbs in the bed and ran my summer treads... a set of Sport King ATs. The siping and aggressive pattern coupled with that weight did surprisingly well, much better than the mud tires, but it was only good up to about 2-3" of fluffy stuff, then I started to have trouble forging my way.

Thus, proper tires, weight balance, and driver skill can work wonders. But they are no match for a serious set of chains when the conditions warrant it. Chains are only good for up to around 40 mph tops. I preferred to keep my spurts at that speed to minimum, I usually tried to run around 25 mph, which was just fine on many of the side roads I frequented. Under 10 mph gets a lil bumpy. I have no experience with cable chains.

I did, however, at one point try out my chains on my Bronco II. I put them on the rear to minimize the possibility of damage should a chain break. (if you put them on the front, it is possible to break a chain and tear out your front brake line, not a good thing). They did just fine like that and I didn't have a problem with steering.
 

MAKG

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i was told it was better to have em on the back, more power and less damage if you throw a chain

both front and back seem to make sense
It's better to have them on the back due to the risk of spin-outs. Understeer is FAR easier to control than oversteer.

You don't want to put them on all four wheels unless you have a center differential. You'll break a U-joint or a hub.

Chains are REQUIRED in California under Stage 2 snow emergencies. Chains must be carried in 4WDs even in Stage 1 (though they are not required to be used if you have snow or M+S tires, 4WD, and at least 3/16 " of tread on all tires). CHP does to spot checks on chain carries these days, generally (but not always) shortly after the point chains are first required. Snowfall can get very heavy above 4000 feet (sometimes lower), and removal is very often behind the curve.

Cables are adequate for this, and are substantially easier than "real" chains to install while lying in the slush.

I had some amusement along these lines up Hwy 4 last week.... I had the Exploder in 4HI; traction was OK (not great), but the 4WD was handling it; the road was fairly icy. I stopped by the side of the road to let the kids go play in the snow (though there was 18 inches on the ground, 6 of it fresh powder, so it was a bit deep for that). A serious newbie in a huge-a$$ late model Land Cruiser putted by with chains flopping on the ground. They were THAT loose. The driver pulled over nearby and looked at them like they were from Mars. I told her to take them off and use the 4WD. I don't think she did (it's safer, right? Ahem.).
 
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